Author: Sue Brown
Length: 49,312 words
Genre: Paranormal M/M Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Artist, Injury, Family Drama, Homophobia, HEA
Rating: So So
Reviewed by Sadonna
**Might contain spoilers**
Dan Young and Noel Murohy have been together since Dan auditioned to dance at the bar where Noel worked. Now they’ve found a home to call their own: Barnacles Cottage, a quaint little house on the beach—their forever home.
But not long after they move in, their dream becomes a nightmare: a car accident puts Noel into a coma. Dan’s and Noel’s parents keep a bedside vigil, but Noel doesn’t wake. Then Dan finds a picture in the attic. At first it seems to be a painting of a young boy, but even as Dan watches, the boy’s face changes… into Noel’s. To save his lover’s life, Dan will have to unravel the artifact’s history—and he’ll have to do it before the picture takes Noel away from him forever.
Somehow when I picked this book up I totally missed that it was paranormal story. I was not expecting this to be that kind of story and it was a surprise for me from this author.
This story starts out with a happily married gay couple who are moving into their dream home – thanks to the inheritance left to Dan. Noel, his partner is an artist and the house is perfect for his work and it meets everything on their wish list. As they are moving in, they discover that the previous owner has left quite a few things in the attic. One of the items is a picture that has been wedged into the rafter space. The picture seems to be of a young boy. Later in the day when Dan goes to look at the picture it seems as if the boy in the picture has aged.
Noel leaves for meeting in the city with his agent after he and Dan have a disagreement about this meeting taking place while they are in the middle of the move. A short time later, Dan gets a call that Noel has been in an accident and is in critical condition at the hospital. Paul, a young man from the pool maintenance company they had hired to happens to be there at the time and volunteers to take a badly shaken Dan to the hospital. It turns out Paul is also gay and works with his partner in the pool business. His mother, Norma, also happens to be a nurse at the hospital where Noel has been taken.
The accident is suspicious – single vehicle and no sign of anything that would have caused Noel to veer off the road into a tree. As Noel comes out of surgery, Dan has to call his parents. Noel’s parents have not been accepting of their son’s sexuality, nor his choice of spouse so Dan is expecting the worst. In some ways that is what he gets, but things do begin to change as the situation with Noel becomes dire.
Eventually Dan returns home and the picture that he had found in the attic has changed and the subject now resembles Noel. Paul and his partner Joe are a godsend, driving Dan back and forth to the hospital and helping with meals and a place to stay when Dan can’t get back home. Paul also saw the painting before and thinks there is something very strange about it now showing a different subject. He and Joe set out to discover the mystery and provenance of this painting and it’s impact on the lives of the owners.
This was the part of the story that I was surprised about since I hadn’t read the premise very closely. While it wasn’t the most interesting part of the story for me, it moved the action along and especially involves Dan and Joe in unraveling the mystery in the story. The situation with Noel continues to deteriorate for no known medical reason and that spurs on the race to uncover the true nature of the painting. Noel’s parents do begin to come around as they share Dan’s concern for his spouse’s life.
There is also a side story that for me, did not add to the narrative. An ambitious and vindictive reporter, trying to make a name for herself, tricks Dan into revealing more of his relationship than he should. As fallout of the article and disclosure, a homophobic and image conscious boss wreaks further havoc with Dan’s job. This adds more drama and angst to the story as the clock is ticking on Noel’s life.
Overall this was an interesting story to read even though this is not my favorite genre. I am a fan of Sue Brown’s contemporary work and while this one was a bit different from most of the stories I’ve read by her, I would recommend it for fans of paranormal stories.